(If you are seeing this post, then I am celebrating Leicester City winning the Premier League. That dumb superstition is why there haven’t been any posts lately. Sorry.)
In this edition of 30 Things, I discuss an aspect of my 27th favorite series, High School DxD. This is a well-known harem anime produced by TNK, a studio that have done very little other than harem anime. The first season aired in the Winter of 2012. This was followed up by the 2nd season High School DxD New in the Summer of 2013 and a 3rd season High School DxD BorN in the Spring of 2015.
The Trashy High School Harem Epic
High School DxD is fundamentally a story about the protagonist Hyoudou Issei’s journey from becoming a normal perverted high school student to ruling the world of devils and angels he finds himself plunged into on one fateful day. In addition, while begrudgingly earning the respect of those who come in contact with him all the while getting ever more perverted than he was at the start of the series.
The thing that really sets the series apart from others though is that despite Issei’s humble beginnings, he is but a part of the High School DxD universe. He is rescued at first by Rias Gremory and brought into this world as nothing but a pawn. Rias herself feels like a pawn within the Gremory clan since she became heir after her brother took on the title of Lucifer. She honestly wants to simply be Rias, so that is why she goes to school with humans and lives among them.
The first season was largely about this dynamic. A powerless Issei was trying to figure out how he could be more useful to Rias by developing abilities other than the ability to tear clothing off of other people. He does this while getting involved with the Church in rescuing Asia Argento and then in family matters as he saves Rias from her engagement with Riser Phenex.
You may notice by now that there is a lot of talk about Angels, Devils, Churches and other components of Christian and other Western mythology throughout the series. It’s a little more serious than just throwing out random things a la Evangelion, but it doesn’t treat it completely seriously. Xenovia joins the team after learning that God was dead, an event that took place off-screen and is hardly given any weight after a while.
The franchise is also very heavy in shounen tropes and parodies. Issei after finding out that he could one day have servants of his own vows to become the Harem King in much the same manner as One Piece’s Luffy vows to become Pirate King in that long-running series. The battles follow a fairly predictable pattern as well where Issei has to face defeat before discovering a power he never thought he had before to win the day after extensive training. These range from finding out new useful techniques that are relevant to a real battle, or discovering that he gets more power from touching Rias’s breasts. There is also the aspect to the series that has the characters traveling between Heaven, Hell and back to Earth to live with mankind.
Okay, I’m definitely giving the universe of too much credit for having a bunch of depth. What most people really like about High School DxD has nothing to do with the plot, or maybe it has to do with the ample plots of land on display. There’s enough in fanservice on offer to any niche within the main group of characters. Want the older motherly type, then Rias is your girl. Want the older girl with a perverted edge, then there’s Akeno. Want an innocent girl with determination to win Issei’s heart, then there’s Asia. Want a serious girl who wants to have strong children, Xenovia. Want to ship Issei with as a bottom, there’s Yuuto, and on top there’s Gasper. Want to have him with a modestly proportioned, but seriously strong girl, then there’s Koneko and finally for those who are cost conscious fanservice fans, there’s Rossweisse. Hell, this is all that is just in the initial group that Issei knows about. He’s got childhood friends and other girls interested in him just because of his strength and potential.
High School DxD is one of my favorites because it tells a story that is more epic than it deserves to tell while also giving me plenty of options on which characters to like. At this point it’s all of them. Every character is good.